How to save money this autumn
7 top tips to improve your finances
It’s great to take time off work during the summer but it can quickly empty our pockets, especially for those of us with kids. So saving money during the autumn is often top of our to-do lists to help get back on top of our finances ahead of the looming expense of Christmas.
In fact, with the ‘back to school’ feeling lingering even for those of us way past school age, it can feel like a good time to take stock and start afresh. So to make the most of that feeling, here are our top suggestions for how to save money this autumn.
1. Review your energy bills
Autumn is traditionally the time when we turn the central heating back on, and switch on the lights earlier as the nights draw in. So if you’re out of contract with your gas and electricity supplier(s), it makes sense to spend a few minutes looking an alternative deals. And many suppliers give their customers a discount for paying for their energy by monthly direct debit, so it’s a good idea to set one up if you haven’t already. See our article, How to save money on your utility bills, for more ideas.
Using less energy in the first place will also save you money – check out the Energy Saving Trust’s website for easy ways to save energy, from little ways, such as not filling a kettle to the top, to bigger ways such as installing solar panels.
2. Make a budget
With the excesses of summer gone, and the pressures of Christmas yet to come, autumn is the perfect time to take stock of your finances and come up with a budget to aim to stick to.
Saving even small amounts can make a difference to your bank balance – and getting into the savings habit can be easier than you think, as our article, 5 habits of successful savers, shows. A savings goal – whether it’s a short-term one such as buying your partner a new gadget for Christmas, a medium-term one such as a house extension, or a long-term one such as helping your child through university – is a great way to focus on longer-term financial ambitions: people who set one typically save £500 a year more than those who don’t. Our article, Taking your first steps in planning your finances, will help set you off on the right foot.
3. Save on food
As life heads indoors, after the outdoor summer fun, many of us draw comfort from cooking warm casseroles and hot puddings that didn’t seem appealing in the warmer months. Love Food Hate Waste estimate that a family with children can waste up to £70 a month buying food that isn’t eaten, so cutting down on your food shop can reap big benefits. From not shopping on an empty stomach (you’re more likely to impulse buy), to knowing whether you can disregard a ‘best before’ date to avoid waste, to getting portion control right and even top tips for using leftovers, their article on our site, How to eat well on a budget, gives you the lowdown.
4. Give your car a health check
Reduce the likelihood of inconvenient and costly breakdowns by ensuring your car is winter-ready now. Top up your windscreen wash, clear autumn leaves from under your bonnet, check the tyre pressure and tread as well as lights and battery. See Autotrader’s article for more tips on looking after your car.
5. Keep fit
The colder, darker weather might make exercising outdoors more difficult, but that doesn’t mean you need to take out an expensive gym membership – there are lots of ways to stay motivated and in great condition. Our article, 6 ways to keep fit on a budget, gives ideas from using a YouTube trainer to the best apps to download.
6. Start preparing for Christmas
There’s no getting away from it – Christmas is expensive. But there’s no excuse not to be prepared – it comes with much fanfare at the same time every year. So it makes sense to prepare for the cost now – both in terms of starting to buy presents and non-perishable food and drinks, in order to spread the cost, and in terms of making a list and setting an overall budget to stick to. Our article, How to budget for a fabulous Christmas, has tips on what costs to plan for and how to make sure you don’t overspend.
7. Book your Christmas travel
Talking about Christmas, if you’ll be flying or using the train to see family or friends over the festive or New Year season, it’s a good idea to book your tickets well in advance (but beware there can be such a thing as too early – MoneySavingExpert’s article on cheap train tickets gives the lowdown). Aside from often being cheaper, this also helps you spread the cost of Christmas and avoid a financial squeeze in December.
To make the most of what autumn has to offer, you may find our article September: the new January an interesting read.
Before making financial decisions always do research, or talk to a financial adviser. Views are those of our mentors and customers and do not constitute financial advice.